RALLY: Local community extends CRNC warm welcome

ROAD POINTS: CRNC and Local Community Score By Working Together SALEM, Mo. (Feb. 20, 2004) -- Nestled smartly in the Ozark foothills of south-central Missouri, Salem is that oh-so-typical, smallish Midwestern town where if you wander into the...

ROAD POINTS: CRNC and Local Community Score By Working Together

SALEM, Mo. (Feb. 20, 2004) -- Nestled smartly in the Ozark foothills of south-central Missouri, Salem is that oh-so-typical, smallish Midwestern town where if you wander into the local Wal-Mart parking lot on a busy Saturday morning, you just might see everybody in town.

So the question is invariably raised every time the souped-up cars with numbers on the side come roaring into sleepy communities like Salem -- are they embraced by the locals or do people just want the obnoxious cars to go away?

The answer to that question is much simpler than it might seem, because Salem is also the type of town that isn't without its share of opportunistic entrepreneurs.

When the SCCA ClubRally National Championship (CRNC) makes its annual appearance in town, many of the approximately 4,400 local folks are eager to showcase their wares, or their good cause, knowing that the out-of-towners are coming to boost their economy. It's simple economics.

The warm reception given by the local communities manifests itself in forms ranging from smiles to friendly sidewalk banter to hotel discounts and all of it is appreciated by many in the rally crowd who make Salem their weeklong home. In return, the rally competitors, volunteers and enthusiasts are happy to give back to the businesses and to various fundraisers that always crop up.

"They (the locals) hate it, can't you tell?" CRNC chairman Kim Demotte said laughing. "The only problem I've had was last year with a lady who had a problem with us limiting access on her road because of her pregnant daughter.

"We got it figured out and then she called again this year. I asked her what it was this time around and she said, 'birthday party.'"

Aside from that, problems with the community, or any other type for that matter, simply don't exist.

"We sat down at breakfast this morning down at the diner on Main Street and the Economic Development Director called me over," DeMotte said. "We had a nice chat with her, I'm her favorite person."

And why would that be?

"We bring in about $100,000 to the area all in one shot," DeMotte continued. "And it comes at a time during the year when no other money is really coming in."

Just outside of the entrance to event registration and technical inspection, a group of four smiling women sit behind fold out tables. Bratwurst and hamburger bun packages are stacked next to paper plates, containers of cole slaw and bags of chips, awaiting the next $5 bill that will go toward "Project Graduation 2004," a drug-free, alcohol-free graduation party for the next wave of Salem High seniors.

In order to make the event run as planned, Project Graduation 2004 has a budget set near $20,000 that funds building rental, games and prizes (one senior will get a car that is donated by a local auto dealer).

Of that amount, Project Graduation 2004 President Janet Gott said she hopes that the one-day fundraiser would provide a sizable portion and that the opportunity to be a part of CRNC weekend again would be welcome.

"We're hoping to make about 10 percent of our overall goal with this," Gott said. "We have done this for two years now and everyone has been great."

And as far as doing it again next year?

"Sure," Gott said. "Bring them on."

-scca-

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Series SCCA